How to Reset PRAM or NVRAM on MacBook Pro

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Is your MacBook Pro exhibiting unusual bugs, like flickering screen, inaccurate time, or displaying a question mark before startup? If so, resetting your PRAM or NVRAM with the ‘Command + Option + P + R’ keyboard shortcut can help squash this pesky issue.

Hi, I’m Devansh. A few weeks ago, the volume control in the Menu Bar in my MacBook Pro was suddenly grayed out. At the advice of a friend, I reset the NVRAM, and I was able to control the volume again!

In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps for resetting NVRAM and answer some common questions.

Read on if your MacBook Pro has been acting up recently and you need a quick solution!

Steps to Reset PRAM or NVRAM

Before I get into the steps to reset PRAM or NVRAM, let’s define what they are. 

PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) is memory powered by a ​​button battery. It stores basic info which a Mac or PC needs before booting up, like time zone, display resolution, and other startup information. But today, Macs no longer use PRAM. Instead, they use NVRAM. 

However, the underlying purpose of NVRAM, short for Non-Volatile Random Access Memory, remains the same. As you might expect, your Mac can become buggy if there’s an error with this memory.

If you suspect this issue with your MacBook Pro, here are the steps to reset NVRAM on all MacBooks.

Intel-based MacBook Pros

Before you begin, turn off the firmware password if you’ve activated it on your MacBook Pro and use either the built-in keyboard or a wired keyboard. Now, follow these steps.

Step 1: Shut down your MacBook Pro. Wait a few seconds, and press the power button again as the display flashes back to life. Then, press and hold the Command, Option, P, and R keys together.

Step 2: Keep holding until the Apple logo (or startup sound) comes and goes away for the second time.

Step 3: Let your MacBook Pro boot. You have successfully reset its NVRAM. 

Apple Silicon-based MacBooks

You can’t reset NVRAM manually if you own an Apple Silicon-based MacBook Pro (M1/M2). In these MacBooks, the processor tests NVRAM at startup, and if it detects any errors, it resets automatically.

However, you can reset SMC if you have some bugs. To reset it, reboot your MacBook while it is connected to an adapter. Read this article for instructions on resetting SMC for Intel-based MacBooks. If you’re curious about how SMC differs from NVRAM, I’ll discuss that later.

FAQs

Here are some common questions surrounding NVRAM.

Is SMC Similar to NVRAM?

No. NVRAM is responsible for storing system configuration details, whereas SMC controls how your MacBook Pro manages power. If you have battery– or power-related– issues, resetting SMC could help. Check out this Support page for more info.

Is It Possible to Reset NVRAM from Terminal?

Yes. Just run ‘nvram ​-c’ into a new terminal window and restart your MacBook. In addition, you can also use ‘nvram – xp’ to see the contents of your NVRAM. Of course, be cautious when running Terminal commands.

Will Resetting NVRAM Speed Up Your MacBook Pro?

Yes, but not directly. It could clear up various bugs and issues that might be slowing down your MacBook or clogging up storage space, but it won’t directly increase processing speed in any significant way.

Should You Reset NVRAM Before Selling Your MacBook Pro?

Yes. Since an NVRAM reset reverts user settings and boots up to the Setup Assistant again, you should do it before handing it to the next owner. Once you reset NVRAM, you can press Command + Q to leave it in an out-of-box mode. Check out this Support page for more tips.

Conclusion

You can reset PRAM and NVRAM on your MacBook Pro with the ‘Command + Option + P + R’ keyboard shortcut during startup on Intel-based MacBook Pros. The NVRAM is automatically reset on M1/M2 Macbook Pros when it detects errors. 

Resetting PRAM and NVRAM can iron out some annoying bugs that may pop up with your MacBook Pro– everything from booting up with the wrong startup disk to being unable to control the volume level.

Did resetting PRAM or NVRAM resolve any bugs in your MacBook Pro? Please let me know in the comments!

About Devansh Kamdar
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I'm an Apple fan who's been using an iMac and a MacBook Pro for work-related tasks since 2017. I also own an iPhone 13 and several other small Apple accessories. Although I'm preparing to build my own PC soon, I still spend most of the time on my Mac.

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